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First:

Kasey

Last:

Suitor

Co-Applicant / Spouse:

Jessica Swartz (business partner)

Email:

Email hidden; Javascript is required.

Past and present farming experience:

I grew up on a horse farm with family friends who had Jersey dairy cows. We also had goats and chickens growing up - I have planted, maintained, and harvested a vegetable garden for the past 5 years.

Counties being considered:
  • Cumberland County
Types of enterprises considered:
  • Apple/Fruit
  • Goats
  • Greenhouse
  • Horses
  • Livestock
  • Vegetables
Total Acres Desired:

5-10

Tillable Acres:

1-2

Wooded acres:

N/A

Acres in Pasture:

1-2

Acres in Pasture:

1-2

Acres in Orchard/Fruit/Perennials:

1?

Organic:
  • Doesn't matter
Farm structures needed:
  • Barn(s)
Equipment needed:

We would like some sort of winterized building for instruction with a bathroom. Milking stands for goats would be ideal but not necessary. Otherwise I can be pretty self sufficient

Arrangement(s) considered
  • Short-Term Lease
  • Long Term Lease
  • Lease with Option to Buy
  • Work to Own (Gradual Transfer of Responsibility & Farm Assests)
  • Joint Venture with eventual sale
I am interested in farms with Conservation Easements:
  • Maybe (Please send me information)
Here is a summary of the vision for my farming future and/or business plan:

Farm Schools Maine

What is Farm School?

Farm School was born from the idea that children need to have room to be participants in their own education; to make mistakes, be accountable to themselves and their communities, respect each other and the world around them, and engage in learning in a way that allows them to feel successful. The current situation and related changes in the education system have allowed us to reconsider how kids should be taught and we have taken this opportunity to explore a new direction in education. Curriculum will be designed to include farm activities and engage children in all aspects of farm life while incorporating environmental education. The choice to develop a school on a farm stems from significant research touting the benefits of farm experience on the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of children. Studies have shown that children who spend time on farms in their formative years develop stronger immune systems, better responses to stress, greater personal autonomy, and higher cognitive abilities.
So what actually is Farm School? Farm School is exactly as the name suggests - it is a school on a farm! We will have chickens, goats, cows, and mini horses as well as gardens and greenhouses. Students will be responsible for learning about and participating in animal and garden care. The goal is to intertwine academics with farm work in order to fully engage students in an immersive educational experience, while bringing back the one room schoolhouse ideas of mixed-age education. Students will learn about environmentally sound practices in farming and gain an appreciation for where their food comes from.

Potential Farm School Projects:
Farm stand: students will be responsible for producing, stocking, pricing, and selling inventory in the farm stand
Hay storage: Students will calculate the volume of storage sheds and the volume of each hay bale and figure out how much we can store - do different configurations allow for greater storage?
Cooking and baking: students will use ingredients produced on the farm to bake and cook in the kitchen while learning valuable math skills
Pickling: students will learn about the history of farms in New England while learning about the ratios of salt to vinegar… and creating some delicious pickles!
Chicken Coop: students will research what components are necessary to a chicken coop, how much space the chickens need, what materials go into building the coop, and how much it will all cost before participating in the construction of the coop and care of the chickens
Cheese Making: students will use milk from the farm’s goats and cows to learn about making cheese and what goes into making the many different cheeses available

The Purpose

To provide an engaging and inclusive curriculum to educate the whole child to reach their highest potential as learners, peers, and citizens of their communities and the world.

The Demand

Responding to the need for an education that teaches responsibility, accountability, personal autonomy, and creative problem solving. Public schools have begun to teach to standards rather than the real needs of their students. By developing a farm-based curriculum that meets students where they are and focuses on their progress rather than achievement relative to standards, we will create a safe, supportive, and inclusive educational environment. Additionally, allowing students to hold responsibilities on the farm will not only give them an opportunity to spend time with the animals, but also participate in the intrinsically rewarding activities that are farming and animal husbandry. We will use emergent research to inform our curriculum design which will allow our students to find what works for them and the best way for them to learn.

Next Steps

Following the success of our fall semester of Farm School Tutoring Support, a remote school day support program at Totten Hill Farm, we are looking toward next school year. We are currently forming a board to found and govern the non-profit while looking at properties for the school. Our goal is to find a property close to 95 in Gray, Windham, or New Gloucester so that there is easy access for students coming from as far south as Scarborough and as far north as Lewiston/Auburn. However, we are considering properties all over Cumberland County. We would like to have the property secured by March so we can begin work on preparing for next school year.

The first year at Farm School will have no more than 60 students in grades 3-6. Academic classes will be broken down by ability rather than age, while age groups will each be assigned an ongoing responsibility on the farm. Lunches will be made from locally sourced produce and meat, and vegetarian options will be provided.